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Employment Alert- Changes to restrictions from 17 May 2021


Changes to restrictions from 17 May 2021

What’s happening?

From 17 May, certain coronavirus restrictions will be relaxed in England.

The changes include:

  • Groups of up to six people, or two households, will be able to socialise indoors (including overnight stays).
  • Up to 30 people will be allowed to gather outside.
  • International travel will be permitted to certain countries without restrictions or the need to quarantine on return to the UK (unless the employee has symptoms, has tested positive or has been advised to by the NHS Test & Trace system). A number of countries have already been confirmed on the ‘green list’ in the traffic light system.

Why is this important?

These changes will affect a number of employers, particularly as the hospitality and entertainment sectors are permitted to reopen. This will include pubs, restaurants, B&B’s, hotels, cinemas, theatres etc.

Employers will still be required to have COVID-secure workplaces and social distancing measures will remain in place, including face masks indoors and the 2m rule where possible (or 1m with extra precautions).

Employees should continue to work from home where they can, e.g. for office-based work. Employers will need to continue to take all possible measures to allow employees to work from home. Any physical or mental health barriers which may impact upon an employee’s ability to work from home should continue to be regularly reviewed.

Many employees are likely to want to take foreign holidays over the summer. From recent experience with the traffic light system, the Government will make changes to the list of safe countries with little to no notice. This means employees may be required to quarantine on their return to the UK at short notice if a country has been moved from green to amber/red status.

The pay that employees would be entitled to during any such quarantine will be fact-specific, e.g. whether they can work from home, whether they will use annual leave, whether they have symptoms and whether they have tested positive. For employers, a key question may be whether the employee knew before travelling that the country was on the red or amber list.

What should you do?

  1. In relation to opening up the workplace again, discuss working arrangements with your employees. If employees cannot work from home, employers should ensure that the workplace is COVID-secure and that they have in place up-to-date risk assessments which have been communicated to employees. Extra measures may need to be taken for those employees who are at a higher risk or are clinically extremely vulnerable.
  2. If you did not register by 12th April 2021 for free workplace rapid lateral testing, you may want to consider asking employees to check if they can get a rapid lateral flow test at home or at a test site. These tests are free for those without symptoms.
  3. Prepare and publish a policy relating to holidaying abroad and what happens if an employee is required to quarantine on their return. Consider entitlement to leave, pay and whether there are any circumstances where disciplinary action would be invoked.
  4. Most importantly, discuss holiday plans with individual employees so you and they know what to expect.

If you need more information please contactus on 0800 2800 421 or email [email protected] to find out how we can help.

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